She started work as an AIN (Assistant in Nursing) based in Ashwood and worked her way up to the Acting Leisure Lifestyle Coordinator.
“I remember my first day like it was only yesterday,” Gail told us. On her first day she was early to work, about 5.30am, and as she was approaching the front door saw a lady wearing a hat and coat, holding a tin of cat food calling out for a cat. Gail thought the lady needed her help and encouraged her to come inside and seated her in the lounge area. All the while the lady kept telling Gail she hadn’t time to sit as she had to cook the breakfast for everyone. Gail thought she was confused and possibly thinking back to her days caring for her family at home. Gail found the sister in charge and when she came into the lounge she said “that’s the COOK!” What a great start.
Gail is very passionate and relates personally to each resident she comes across. She is often heard before she is seen due to her whistling, greetings and her strong English accent.
She speaks affectionately of her experience as a Recreational Activities Officer such as one occasion when she took Kit, a 100 year old resident, to Bondi Beach. Kit had been a Lifeguard at Bondi and had said how she would like to paddle and swim one more time in Bondi. A swimsuit was bought, and Kit’s dream came true. Another memorable occasion was when Gail worked nights at Ashwood and assisted Mrs Hawkins into bed each evening. Gail would place a cushion on the floor and help Mrs Hawkins to kneel beside her bed and say her prayers every evening before she slept.
During her (rather lengthy) prayers, Mrs Hawkins would say thank you to everyone in her family and to the staff for all their care, love and support. Gail would then help her into bed.
One evening at age 94, Mrs Hawkins had finished saying her prayers but this time she could not get off the floor. “My knees have gone,” she said.
After having another nurse help Gail put Mrs Hawkins into bed, Mrs Hawkins said “Now I will have to say my prayers in bed… I have never done that before.”
Mrs Hawkins passed away at the age of 98. Her daughter, Clarice, now 86, lives at Crawford Lodge, also saying her prayers every night before bed to thank everyone.
After starting as an AIN, Gail enrolled in educational courses to learn about the job ahead and fell in love with her new career in Aged Care. She still finds it very rewarding.
“My passion has been, being part of someone’s life and I can say I hope I have made a difference. I have met so many wonderful residents and families who have helped with my journey of care.”
92 year old Noel at Crawford Lodge at Ashwood is very proud of his jigsaw puzzle. He told us,“My wife Maureen enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles and I always thought they were a waste of time until Maureen passed away 25 years ago.
“Then my daughter Chris bought me a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas in memory of my late wife. I really started to enjoy doing them.
“I started putting the pieces together during my spare time with the help of my neighbour Jean, we had an area in my sunroom at my home in Wentworthville.
“The jigsaw is a picture of the last supper and has 13,000 very small pieces. It took us both 4 to 5 years to complete.”
Apparently when they completed the puzzle there was one piece missing so Noel’s friend cut a small piece of cardboard to match the size needed and painted it – now no one can see where that missing piece is.
When he moved into Crawford Lodge in 2019 Noe and his family had the puzzle framed. “I am proud to have it hung on the wall in the main lounge room of Bradman Wing for all to appreciate.”
What was meant to be a celebration of the year ending turned into a spectacular fire show instead here at The Glen. We were warned that a catastrophic event was going to happen, so we had measures in place to evacuate within the facility. The word came late on Monday that we may have fires coming close to the facility – they sure did!!
Residents were all relocated to the middle level of our facility by the staff that were here that day and some staff that called in to assist.
As well as the Broulee Fire Brigade attending, we also had some staff assisting to put out spot fires before the brigade arrived. These staff and the firies are certainly highly commended for putting the fires out and helping to keep our residents and staff safe during this time.
During the time the water bombing helicopter was ably assisting to put the fires out as well – the fires were on two sides of the facility and quite close to houses in nearby streets as well.
To add to the melee there was no power and phone reception was spasmodic. We did end up with a generator until we had full power once more. Luckily near Christmas the Lifestyle staff had put up some solar lights along the verandas and these provided light to see with during the nights.
Unfortunately there were some staff and resident’s families that lost their homes in other areas of Batemans Bay.
Some comments mentioned by residents:
“Felt terrified/petrified as I have never been so close to a fire before. Hated being upstairs with so many people around – it was difficult to manoeuvre my wheelie walker at times. The staff were wonderful.”
“Everything was well handled – the inconvenience of moving upstairs was tolerable – but we all came out of it okay”
“Felt safe knowing that the fires were coming, we knew we would be safe upstairs. It was a very hectic time and we were well looked after – despite having no electricity for 2 days.”
“Felt very disorientated and daunting not being in our own rooms.”
“Staff were wonderful and I don’t know how they coped with everything”.
“It was great that we didn’t have to evacuate the facility.”
“The firies saved us, along with the staff that put out fires and the water bombers – they stopped the fires from spreading.”
“Grateful for the staff assistance. Felt terrified because of the fires. It was scary with the waterbombing and the noise of the helicopters was loud – bangs when the water hit the ground.”
“I had to move downstairs with all the windows and curtains closed and didn’t see what was happening outside. It made me feel cranky, irritable and bitchy!”
“Made me feel confused and frightened – we were looked after well. But if it happened again I would feel comfortable in the knowledge of what was going on.”
“It was not as bad as being stuck in an air raid shelter in England during the war!”
“When the rains came the kangaroos came down and were jumping around in the rain near my window – there was a family of them and they looked cute.”
A new resident’s comment: “Having to be evacuated from my own home in Moruya to my daughter’s place in Catalina, made me feel safe. But I was confused because I couldn’t see what was happening.”
Some comments made from staff: “The noise of the helicopters must’ve brought memories back to them of what it was like and how they felt during wartime.”
“It was also mentioned that some staff were terrified during the fires and having to evacuate from their homes and going to evacuation places.”
“Staff stuck together as a team. All worked really well together, some staff found it traumatic. People with dementia coped better than cognitive residents.”
“Most staff worked together really well. Residents coped extremely well given the circumstances.”
On behalf of our residents and families, Fresh Hope Care would like to say thank you to all our magnificent nurses, aged care workers and first responders for the wonderful care you gave yesterday, and the loving care you will give today and all the tomorrows that follow.
We appreciate that you give your heart and soul in caring for those in need. You are such an essential part of the Fresh Hope Care family and we wouldn’t be who we are without you…
Toni Wallwork, Diversional Therapist at Living Care Clelland Lodge has been featured in the May-June issue of the Australian Ageing Agenda Magazine. You can read the article on ‘Learning in the Virtual Classroom’ here.
Laura Boyd, 26 has been featured in the South Coast Register. Laura resides at Clelland Lodge in Nowra and following a huge fundraising effort she has received her ‘eye-gaze assistive technology device’. Read more here.
Toni Wallwork, Acting Group Diversional Therapist Manager has written an article for the University of Melbourne’s, Ageing Industry Network News. The article features the successful Men’s Program at Living Care’s Clelland Lodge. Read more here.